We are thrilled to present an exclusive interview with the remarkable Courtney Baker, an artist who brings the vibrant spirit of the desert to life through her stunning stained glass creations. Born and raised amidst the arid landscapes of Nevada, Courtney's artistry has been deeply shaped by the desert's beauty and rugged charm. In collaboration with Parks Project, her new holiday collection is a harmonious blend of her desert upbringing and a passion for preserving our national parks. In this conversation, we'll dive into her creative process, the desert's influence, her connection with Parks Project, and what lies ahead in her artistic journey. Check out her website for more information!
Q: Your unique stained glass artistry is very captivating. Could you share with us how you discovered your passion for this craft and what drew you to stained glass as a medium?
A: I had restless hands and was actually drawn to stained glass because of the physicality of it. It’s a very physically demanding medium and I like that aspect. I come from a family of woodworkers and handy people so I was looking for an artistic outlet that had that quality to it.
Q: Growing up in the Nevada desert, you have an eye most may not have for this connection to the natural world. How has your desert upbringing influenced your artistic style and the themes you explore in your work?
A: Most of my childhood was spent living across the street from miles and miles of open desert. Any chance I got, especially in the summer, I was out there looking for lizards, snakes, horny-toads and deserted treasures. I like bringing the colors and vastness to my work with the Portals I make. I like that they symbolize that there’s something more out there.
Q: Could you describe the role the national parks have played in inspiring the design of your holiday collection with us, and how does it reflect your admiration for these landscapes?
A: I wanted to make a collection that could tap into different aspects of National Parks. From the moonlit deserts to the raging waters. I wanted to make a variety of portals that could represent a place anyone would love to escape to.
Q: Can you bring us into your process a bit? What are some parts of this process that are unique to you from the beginning to end? This could have something to do with organization, motivation, creative boosts, music, place, etc.
A: I start with a pattern and creating one is probably the most time consuming part of it. I love looking through reference books or even old designs of mine for inspiration. It takes a lot of sketches and rough drafts but once I get a pattern that I’m happy with, I can then start picking out a color palette. I’m usually listening to music during this part of the process. I put sheets of glass into the windowsill of my studio and mix and match until I’m happy. Once i settle on a color palette, I trace the pattern onto the glass, cut and grind them until they fit and then wrap each piece in copper foil tape. They’re then aligned and soldered together. Once they’re finished, I clean and polish them and they’re ready to be hung in the window.
Q: Collaboration is at the heart of your partnership with Parks Project. Can you share some insights into the collaborative process and how it has shaped the collection, bringing your vision to life?
A: The collaborative process with these pieces was pretty straight forward. Being approached with this opportunity and a request for a variety of portals was a fun challenge. I came up with a few options and color palettes and once we narrowed them down and made some minor adjustments, I was ordering the glass for them and getting to work. This collaboration has been a dream!
Q: What’s your favorite park to escape to when you need a break and why?
A: I used to live really close to Tahoe and loved going there any chance I could! It’s always so beautiful up there, no matter the season. The big trees and tall mountains are always my favorite things to look at, probably because they’re so different than the desert scenery I see everyday.
Q: Looking ahead, can you share any future projects or artistic endeavors you have in store for your growing community of art enthusiasts? What makes you excited for these?
A: I actually don’t have anything that I can speak on just yet but I am always working and always open to collaborations with other artists. I’m looking forward to having a pretty open winter season to hibernate and experiment with new things in my artistic practice.